The UK DRI brings together multidisciplinary expertise in dementia research, in programmes of work shaped and delivered through a team of directors. Our leadership team work collaboratively to form the scientific strategy of the institute, and ensure it meets its ambitious goals, reporting to the UK DRI Board of Trustees chaired by William Rucker.
Our national leadership team
Prof Bart De Strooper is a world-renowned Alzheimer's disease researcher, formerly based at the KU Leuven in Belgium. He was Director at the Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie and led a neuroscience department of over 250 researchers. Professor De Strooper’s research has focused on understanding the fundamental mechanisms that underlie Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. He is the recipient of several prestigious prizes in recognition of his work, such as the Brain Prize, the Potamkin prize, the Metlife Foundation Award for Medical Research and the Alois Alzheimer’s prize.
Dr Adrian Ivinson completed his undergraduate and graduate training in the UK before moving to the US where for eight years he was part of the Nature Publishing Group, including Editor of Nature Medicine and Publisher of the Nature monthly journals. He joined Harvard Medical School in 2001 as the founding Director of the Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center. After 12 years leading the centre, Dr Ivinson took the position of Director of Translational Research, allowing him to focus on those programmes with a more overt translational emphasis, and transitioned to Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Prof Giovanna Mallucci is Professor of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge and an Honorary Consultant Neurologist at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, specialising in dementia. She combines clinical work and basic research, having previously led groups in the MRC Prion Unit and MRC Toxicology Unit. Her research is advancing understanding of common mechanisms in neurodegenerative diseases and pioneering the development of interventions targeting these pathways for the treatment for dementia. Prof Mallucci has received numerous awards for her work, including a SciAm50 award for leadership in research as one of the top 50 scientific innovators worldwide.
Professor of Neuropsychological Genetics at Cardiff University and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Welsh Government since 2013, Prof Julie Williams is a world renowned expert in the genetics of Alzheimer’s disease. Having led global studies identifying new Alzheimer’s disease risk genes, her collaborative discovery of three such genes was recognised by TIME Magazine as one of the top ten medical breakthroughs of 2009. Julie is one of four leaders of the International Genomics of Alzheimer’s Project (IGAP) and Deputy Director for the MRC Dementias Platform UK (DPUK). She was awarded a CBE in 2012 for her contribution to Alzheimer’s research.
As Professor of Molecular Neurobiology at the University of Edinburgh, Giles Hardingham’s research looks into signalling between neurons and glia in the brain. His aim is to characterise the interactions that maintain brain homeostasis, and how these mechanisms break down in diseases that cause dementia. Having started his career at the University of Cambridge, Professor Hardingham worked at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology before moving to Edinburgh, obtaining a Royal Society University Research Fellowship, and latterly a MRC Senior Non-Clinical Research Fellowship. Professor Hardingham is a former EMBO Young Investigator and Colworth Medal winner.
Prof Paul Matthews is Head of the Division of Brain Sciences in the Department of Medicine at Imperial College London. He was the founding director of two internationally leading research imaging centres, the University of Oxford Centre for Functional Magnetic Imaging of the Brain and later, the GlaxoSmithKline Clinical Imaging Centre. As well as extensive academic experience, Professor Matthews served as Vice President of GlaxoSmithKline Medicines Discovery and Development between 2005 and 2014, and currently leads the imaging network for DPUK. His research aims to translate advances in brain imaging into clinical applications in neuroscience, including accelerating drug development. Professor Matthews was awarded an OBE in 2008 for services to neuroscience.
In addition to being Professor of Neurology and Neurogenetics at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London, Prof Chris Shaw is also Head of Department of Basic and Clinical Neuroscience, Director of the Maurice Wohl Clinical Neuroscience Institute and an Honorary Consultant at King’s College Hospital. Following clinical training in New Zealand, Chris developed his research career at the University of Cambridge before moving to King’s where his research focuses on the genetic, molecular and cellular basis of motor neurone disease and frontotemporal dementia. His team has discovered many new genes that highlight the major disease pathways and present new therapeutic opportunities. Chris has received lots of recognition for his work, including the Sheila Essey Award and a 2019 Kea World Class Award.
With over 15 years’ experience working in Alzheimer’s disease and currently Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology at Colombia University, we are privileged that Prof Karen Duff will be returning to the UK in spring 2020 as Associate Director of the UK DRI’s hub in UCL. Completing a PhD in the Cambridge lab of Nobel Prize winner Sydney Brenner, Karen is now a leader in the field of neurodegenerative disease, having shared the prestigious Potamkin Prize in 2006. Her most notable work has been in the development of several transgenic research models, which have driven the field forward in its mission to find therapeutics for these devastating conditions.
With a background in traumatic brain injury, Prof David Sharp is in an expert in the use of advanced neuroimaging to study the human brain, with a particular focus on causes of cognitive problems across the brain network. After studying medicine at the Universities of Oxford and London, he obtained his PhD from the latter in 2006. David became an NIHR Professor at Imperial College London in 2012. He brings his expertise to the UK DRI Care Research & Technology Centre at Imperial, where as Associate Director, he will lead a ground-breaking research programme using technology to transform diagnosis and care for people living with dementia.